My iPad Enterprise Rollout: 5 Surprises

350 iPads deployed, 650 more arriving by end of year: Florida State College CIO Rob Rennie is busy learning real-world lessons from his iPad enterprise rollout. Consider these five pieces of wisdom that he shared with CIO.com.

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Mon, August 30, 2010

CIO — The iPad is not a theoretical invader from the world of consumer IT for CIO Rob Rennie of Florida State College at Jacksonville. It's real.

Rennie has put 350 iPads in the hands of executives, IT staff, administrators, faculty and students—all using the iPads in various ways depending on job function. It's the first phase of a project calling for a thousand iPads to be delivered throughout the college by the end of the year, including at libraries and labs where students can "check" them out.

Why does a college need iPads? Tired of staring at spreadsheets, executives wanted iPads for reporting purposes, Rennie says. The iPad's elegant interface could serve up information such as budgets, staffing issues and status of projects. Students and faculty could leverage iPads for e-books, PDF handouts, as well as Florida State College's wealth of information on its Web portal.

[ The iPad has lured business users in law, medicine and other fields, too. | A private high school needs remote monitoring before adopting the iPad, reports CIO.com. ]

Meanwhile, the IT staff at Florida State College saw the iPad as a great device for monitoring systems and receiving mobile alerts and tasks, he says. (In fact, IT staffs across the country have become early adopters of the iPad.)

The first phase of Florida State College's iPad rollout started shortly after the iPad became available earlier this year. Rennie has learned a lot since then, as he prepares to send more iPads out into the field. Here are five of his surprises:

1. Executives Love iPads in Meetings

Executives at Florida State College were the first to ask for iPads, says Rennie, who gave iPads to the CEO, CFO, vice president of HR, and campus presidents. (The Florida State College system is made up of several smaller colleges and academies, each with their own president and deans.)

What happened next shocked him. "I was surprised at how fast senior management fell in love with the iPad," Rennie says. "They made it their primary device, replacing their laptops."

Now decisions at meetings are made quickly thanks to the iPad, he says.

In the past, no one fired up laptops at meetings in a conference room because it made the executive look disengaged. When a topic came up that required facts to make a decision, such as the difference in cost for an allocated requisition and an unallocated one, the vice president of HR would have to research it later. Thus, the topic would be tabled for the next meeting.

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